Angels Press-Box Pooh-Bah
Name an event in the 49-year history of the Los Angeles/California/Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and John Moynihan has seen it—from just about the best seat in the house. He has worked in the Angels press box since 1961 and lived through the triumphant ups and devastating downs of the franchise. He has slapped palms with everyone from Johnny Carson to Ted Williams; worked for Gene Autry, Disney and Arte Moreno; and, to the best of his recollection, has missed no more than 10 home games.
Moynihan, 78, an Orange County resident since 1965, has a title: Press Box Coordinator. But for the thousands of media members, past and current players, and front-office people who have worked or watched a game from this vantage point, Moynihan is the Angels press box, if not the living personification of the team’s history.
Moynihan was there when the Los Angeles Angels set the record for most wins by an expansion team (71). He saw the team move to newly opened Dodger Stadium in 1962, then Anaheim in 1966. He watched it take 18 years to get to the postseason, rode shotgun on the Ryan Express, experienced the spectacles of Reggie Jackson and Wally World, endured such agonizing moments as the deaths of Lyman Bostock and Nick Adenhart, rejoiced when the Angels claimed their first World Series championship in 2002, and watched proudly as the franchise evolved into one of baseball’s finest organizations.
He’s not only the longest-tenured Angels employee, but also the link connecting every current Angels player or employee to the greatest Angel of all: Gene Autry, the man who bonded with a massive UPS truck driver who worked nights in the Wrigley Field press box in 1961. The two men developed a lifelong working and personal friendship; Moynihan served as Autry’s chaperone in Anaheim and on the road, escorting him into the stadium, driving him home after games, shielding him from the rush of fans who would crowd around the elderly cowboy.
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Moynihan possesses a trove of stories, from watching Williams giving batting tips to opposing players while managing the Washington Senators to a rather-uncomfortable reaction Milwaukee Brewers broadcaster Bob Uecker endured hours after eating a sausage in the press box. But perhaps Moynihan’s most incredible story—other than his amazing work record—is this one: The last assignment he had while serving in the U.S. Air Force (from 1950 to 1955) was working a security detail that accompanied America’s fleet of B-29 bombers, the planes that carried America’s nuclear arsenal across the globe to keep it hidden from the Commies.
If, when the One Great Scorer comes to mark your name, you can say you’ve chaperoned both Gene Autry and the A-Bomb at some point in your life, then you’ve had one hell of an interesting journey.
1. Beat the Traffic to Angel Stadium.
“Stay off the freeway. This stadium has so many side roads around it that, if you live anywhere in Orange County, you can get here just by taking surface streets.”
2. When You Find a Good Steak, Stick With It.
“My wife and I used to go to the original Ruth’s Chris Steak House in New Orleans, and I’ve never had a steak like that anywhere. Then they opened one by the airport and now in Anaheim.” 2961 Michelson Dr., Bldg. 10, Ste. A, Irvine, (949) 252-8848; 2041 S. Harbor Blvd., Anaheim, (714) 750-5466; www.ruthschris.com.
3. Find the Best Seat In the House.
“Third-base side, for sure. But we do have longtime Californians who still love the sun.”
4. And Get There Early.
“Right when the gates open.”
5. Know Thy Enemy.
“Well, Yankees and Red Sox fans are pretty neck-and-neck in terms of being loud and boisterous. But they also might be the most knowledgeable fans out there. And Dodgers fans bring their own razzmatazz with them. I think all the old Raiders fans are now Dodgers fans.”
6. And Don’t Let ‘Em Get Under Your Skin.
“Just let them hoot and holler. Eventually, they’ll run out of steam or sober up. Besides, it’s all part of the game.”
7. But Realize That Some of Them Are Actually Nice.
“Places such as Minnesota or Seattle have really polite fans. But the Japanese fans who come out to see Ichiro or other players are the best in the world. Absolutely.”
8. Know Your Baseball History.
The best ballplayer he ever saw? “Ted Williams. I loved his quote about how when he really got a hold of a ball, he could smell the bat burning.”
9. Know Your Angel Stadium History.
Most exciting moment? “There are so many, but I’d have to say Bo Jackson’s home run in the 1989 All-Star game [played at Anaheim Stadium] really got people’s attention.”
10. Get the Good Stuff at the Ballpark.
“The pulled-pork sandwich and steamed corn from Clyde Wright’s BBQ.” Gate 1, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, 2000 Gene Autry Way, Anaheim.
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